Great piece from Robert T. Gonzalez. I'm in the middle of reading Bilton's book - great read for anyone in education, anyone with kids, and and anyone with any interest in where we're headed!
For years, the US Department of Health and Human Services has distributed brochures like this one to people who are considering surgery. The packets are full of things you need to know and questions you should ask your surgeon before going under the knife.
And while these pamphlets are certainly thorough and informative, you'll notice that they make no mention of asking your surgeon if he or she plays (or used to play) video games. But recent research suggests that they probably should.
The folks over at BoingBoing recently posted an excerpt from a book by Nick Bilton —lead technology writer for the New York Times Bits Blog—titled I Live in the Future and Here's How it Works . In a chapter titled "Why Surgeons Play Video Games," Bilton presents some of the latest research on the link between surgical skill and gaming experience:A few years ago, researchers quizzed more than thirty surgeons and surgical residents on their video game habits, identifying those who played video games frequently, those who played less frequently, and those who hardly played at all [the research paper in question can be found here]. Then they put all the surgeons through a laparoscopic surgery simulator, in which thin instruments akin to extremely long chopsticks are inserted into one or more small incisions through the skin along with a small camera that is inserted into an additional small opening. Minimally invasive surgery like this frequently is used for gallbladder removal, gynecologic procedures, and other procedures that once involved major cutting and stitching and could require hours on an operating table. [Featured here is the video from a laparoscopic appendectomy that illustrates the kind of coordination and spatial awareness required for laparoscopic procedures. Just a heads up: this clip is not for the squeamish.]
The researchers found that surgeons or residents who used to be avid video game players had significantly better laparoscopic skills than did those who'd never played. On average, the serious game players were 33 percent faster and made 37 percent fewer errors than their colleagues who didn't have prior video game experience.
The more video games the surgeons had played in the past, the better their numbers.